I would like to begin my inaugural article by saying thank you to the editors of the Gay Marriage Watch blog and also to those of you who may become one or the other: supporters and/or detractors. I look forward to writing on the issues of the community, equality in marriage, and equality and justice in our political system. Your comments and questions are greatly appreciated and needed.
I am the Reverend Maximilian Claassen, IV, an ordained vocational deacon of the Church of England, better known in the United States as the Episcopal Church. We are 77 million members worldwide. I am very soon to go before the bishop’s commission to seek admission into seminary and to become a transitional deacon and eventually ordained as a priest of the church. Yes, lets dispel any rumors, I am a gay man. Key word is man. I am pre-destined to failure and I live under the maxim, “For all have fallen short of the glory of God.” But because of grace and mercy abounding, I live my life to love my God, my faith, my church, and my fellow man, with a Servant’s Heart .
Now, onto the point of order in my title. In the year 2012, at the General Governing Convention in Indianapolis, Alabama elevated the then suffragan bishop, The Right Reverend John McKee Sloan, from his position as suffragan or assistant, to the 11th Episcopal Bishop of the State of Alabama. The House of Deputies or Lay persons, and the House of Bishops confirmed the Right Reverend, accordingly.
In the convention the issue was raised of the Episcopal Church of the North Americas to change the liturgy of marriage to add ‘Same Gender Relationship Blessings.’ Please do not get to excited because the governing body stresses that this is not same gender marriage, but simply a blessing of the relationship or in effect a prayer for and over.
I must begin by saying that I do support equality in marriage, not because of gay rights as the community would label it, but because it is morally right that two consenting adults who love one another as Christ loved us, nevertheless, they should be able to profess their love in public and if anyone should accept all persons, it should be the church before any government.
I am not an advocate of change through force, yet I also am not an advocate of ‘toeing the line.’ In Alabama, our Bishop voted at the General Convention not once but twice that the Episcopal Church should be allowed to perform a liturgical ceremony for the ‘Blessing of Same Gender Unions.’ While I do agree that this is a step in the right direction, Bishop Kee however voted that in his diocese he would not allow the blessing to be exercised. As a side note he has intimated that this is due to the fact that in his diocese and the State of Alabama, the majority would not look so kindly on such a liturgy and blessing. In essence that the political climate would frown upon such and that it could cause a schism within his diocese.
I do praise His Grace for his votes of Yeah, but have to explain my dissent with his one Nay. We are taught that we are all children of God, that we were created in His image, that God make no mistakes, and that we are covered in this life by His grace and mercy as we await the second coming of our savior Jesus Christ. And do we not need a firm leader? Do we believe these things and yet we are still considered 2nd class citizens? I say NAY, you are our shepherd. If you do not support your own fold and equally represent it as is your bounden duty, then I say vote nay across the board.
In a great partisan action, the General Convention passed and approved the “Blessings of Same Gender Relationships.’ As of to date the sub-committee on the liturgy is working through the appropriate wording and ceremony that will be added to the Book of Common Prayer. Praise be to thee O Lord for this step in the right direction.
If all of that is true, then indeed first and foremost homosexuality is not a choice. If that were true then I would challenge any and all heterosexual men and women to try sexual relations with their same sex. While this may seem a bit radical, it answers the question of whether or not sexual preference is a choice.
I did not choose to live my life under the merciless eye of my peers, for society to treat me with scorn, or for law enforcement to needlessly harass us simply because we are different. We all have differences. Differences in the color of our skin. Our nationality’s. Our religious faith and preference. Our Gender. We differ in so many ways that it is logical to believe that we are all intrinsically bound to be different on our physical and emotional attractions in relationships. Especially same sex relationships. We are beautiful in His eyes, and our differences are what make us the many colors of His creation.
While I hold a firm belief that a license from city hall and county courthouses across the nation, or the alb and chasuble and words from a book do not make a marriage legitimate. A marriage requires, friendship, commitment, and attraction. Once the two individuals profess their love before the eyes of God and their family and friends, they are indeed in the state of matrimony.
I simply ask, where in the word of God did he say that in this life we should have hierarchy, a pope, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests, deacons, lay persons, and even fellow parishioners, are bound by duty to the faith to tell two people who and how to love and that unless they fit the ‘mold’ it is not valid?
I say Nay to this! Nay to judgement. Nay to unfair policies. Nay to being politically correct on the subject of love. We are all human beings and made to love. Our primary purpose is for the greater glory of God. So why not allow two people whether it be man and man, woman and woman, man and woman, to not only love one another, but also have a person by their side who can love and praise God and exercise and be a living witness of His grace, mercy, praise, worship and the greater glory of God?
I close with this prayer and seek your comments and questions for all the aforementioned, “O God, help all your children and people of the world, come to you and find salvation through the gift of your savior, Jesus Christ. Speak in your way to those who govern and are in authority to find their moral compass and to remember that they are our shepherds and that we all deserve to have equality in love and marriage. Help us to forgive those who oppress and persecute us and to only show love in return. Grant us grace to accept the blessings that are seen, but also to have the wisdom to look through our hearts to find the blessings that were unseen in our lives. We pray for peace, the sick, the burdened, and we make no peace with oppression O’ God. Guide us in the path that is right and just and ever keep us in our fight for love.”
Never forget: “For faith, hope, and love abideth. But the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:13.